So you sign with an agent. She has all kinds of fantastic suggestions for improvements to your novel.
Yay! Fanfare! Much cheering and embarrassing celebratory behavior!!
Next comes the hard work.
I’m just winding down my first round of agent edits on Captive Magic (with full knowledge that a second round of tweaks is to follow). It has been A LOT more work than I expected. All productive, necessary work, but no less brain melting for that.
Exhibit A: Mangled corpse of a plot outline:
Notice the red bits and track changes bubbles? The color-coding? That’s all stuff that has to change. And as much as I hate outlining, having the outline to shred made the revision process a whole lot easier on my sanity.
I still have some polishing to do before I’m ready to pass the shiny new MS along, but I’ve come to a conclusion about the benefit of having an agent on your side. Mine gave me the motivation I needed to make the hard changes that my story needed. You know the ones. All the little things you think you can get away with. Maybe your betas have hinted: “You could do this that way…but I really love it the way it is!!! Don’t change a thing!!!!!”
Sorry, kids. It’s not gonna fly.
My personal vice is trying to slip in too many characters. My agent made sure the axe came down. I was trying to ignore the problem because who in the right mind volunteers to cut a char? But axe, I did, and the rest of the cast has thanked me. Their voices get to shine through where scenes have shifted to fill the gaps.
Your agent won’t (or shouldn’t!) let you get away with being lazy. They’ll keep you honest. They’ll make you re-think the tiniest pieces of your story. And while they might pile a whole lot more work on your plate, your novel will be that much stronger after going through the wringer with an industry insider. Because really, don’t you want your agent to love the story that much more? They’re the one who has to sell the thing.
All you have to do is write the sequel…